Breast cancer family history leads to early breast cancer detection and optimal management

Cancer Causes Control. 2017 Sep;28(9):921-928. doi: 10.1007/s10552-017-0928-5. Epub 2017 Jul 27.


Purpose: We investigated whether the relationship between family history (FH) of breast cancer and survival of women with breast cancer is related to the quality of care received, once adjusted for other prognostic variables using data from the Geneva population-based cancer registry and quality of care indicators defined by the European Society of breast cancer specialists (EUSOMA).

Methods: We included non-metastatic malignant breast tumor patients who had their surgery between 2001 and 2010. We assessed the association between FH and patient and tumor characteristics on one hand, and each quality of care indicator and an overall score of quality of care, on the other hand, through logistic regression. We assessed the impact of FH and the quality of care-score on 5-year survival with Cox regression adjusting for patient and tumor characteristics.

Results: 2,672 patients were included in the study. Women with a positive FH were younger, more likely from Switzerland, screen detected, had positive estrogen and progesterone receptor status, and had smaller and ductal tumors. A positive FH was also associated with better management for several quality indicators. Women with a positive FH had a better crude survival (Hazard Ratio 0.61, p = 0.006). This association was not substantially affected when adjusting for quality of care. However, the effect of FH did not persist when also adjusting for patient and tumor characteristics.

Conclusions: A positive FH of breast cancer is associated with earlier breast cancer diagnosis, better tumor features, and higher quality of care. These factors explain the better survival observed among breast cancer women with a positive FH as compared to women without positive FH.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Switzerland